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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mrs. LUMMIS. I first want to thank my colleague, Representative Hinojosa from Texas, for joining me in this amendment.

Now here is an undisputed fact: Today, the United States imports more than 90 percent of our uranium from foreign countries. Some of them don't like us very much. We have an ample supply of uranium in the West and across this country. A lack of supply is not the problem.

We import that much uranium for two reasons: First, accidents that happened decades ago cooled interest in nuclear energy in our country, so companies slowed down their production. But here is the second reason: Just as our domestic energy began to recover from these disasters, our own government started dumping into the market excess uranium it has stockpiled.

DOE uses the stockpile to raise funds for itself for various purposes--a fact that this Appropriations subcommittee has been concerned about for quite some time. Every time the Federal Government dumps its excess stockpile into the market, it depresses the price of uranium. Depressed uranium prices halt private investment in domestic mining and conversion and hurt American jobs in the West and in the Midwest.

Being reasonable folks, the uranium miners have agreed to accept that the Department of Energy can dump into the market up to 10 percent of domestic demand for uranium. That has been the consensus approach since 2008. However, last month, the DOE departed from the consensus and announced that it would dump into the market a volume of uranium that is overwhelming in its scope--9,000 tons--an amount that is orders of magnitude greater than 10 percent of domestic demand.

That is what my amendment today seeks to end--the price-distorting dumping of uranium in the open market above what has been the consensus in the uranium industry for years and above a level that can be weathered by U.S. companies offering U.S. jobs in uranium mining.

Now here is where my amendment gets politically sticky. High-profile Members of Congress from the Midwest are trying to protect 1,200 jobs for 1 year at the United States Enrichment Corporation facility in Kentucky. Let me be clear. I don't want jobs lost in Paducah, Kentucky, but I also don't want jobs lost in Wyoming and in the West.

I want my colleagues to understand this. While the actions of the Department of Energy may help save 1,200 jobs for 1 year in Kentucky, it will also end 1,200 jobs in the West and Midwest for much longer than that. So the Department of Energy's dump onto the open market of $815 million worth of uranium to further bail out a failing private company, USEC, will result in no net savings of jobs. Over $800 million to save no net jobs is a stunningly bad investment.

The good news is that we can protect jobs in Kentucky and in the West at the same time. We do not have to choose. Here is how. Vote for this bipartisan amendment. If my amendment passes, the DOE will still transfer 62 percent of the 9,000 tons of depleted uranium before my amendment even takes effect.

After that, DOE can still continue its transfers, just under a reasonable cap that doesn't destroy domestic uranium mining and conversion in the process.

Here are the facts: My amendment does not halt work at any of USEC's failing sites; it does not prevent transfers for national security purposes; it does not halt the cleanup of sites in Ohio. In fact, my amendment provides a way for all of these projects to move forward efficiently and fairly.

The bottom line is this: We do not need to sacrifice jobs in Wyoming or Illinois to support jobs in Kentucky. That is a false choice. We can do both, and that is exactly what my amendment does.

I implore my colleagues to give DOE's actions careful thought here. DOE's plan is a market distorting government intrusion into the private market. We cannot stop it in full, but we can rein it in next year in a way that is fair to every single stakeholder in this debate.

I ask my colleagues to support my amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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